AEM opposed to GPS plan
June 27, 2011 - The U.S. Association of Equipment Manufacturers has released a statement calling on American authorities to stop a proposed project by LightSquared, a telecommunications startup, that they say will disrupt public GPS signals across large parts of the country. LightSquared is seeking approval to build a new wireless broadband network using 40,000 transmitters across the continental United States.
By Patrick Flannery
The statement from AEM president Dennis Slater follows:
"The Association Equipment Manufacturers is a founding member of the
Coalition to Save Our GPS, as well as a member of the Transportation
Construction Coalition (TCC). Today, AEM calls on Congress,
Transportation Secretary LaHood, and the Federal Communications
Commission to stop the threat in the U.S. to Global Positioning Systems
(GPS) posed by LightSquared, the company planning to deploy a nationwide
broadband internet infrastructure of 40,000 ground stations.
"Not only would the 40,000 ground stations very likely render commercial
and private GPS signals unreliable and in some cases useless, but
implementing LightSquared's plan would add unnecessary burdens to the
"A study just released by the Coalition to Save Our GPS reveals that the
stakes in this issue are very high and very real for our struggling
economy. The numbers are staggering: more than 3.3 million jobs depend
on GPS technology and the direct economic cost to U.S. commercial GPS
users and manufacturers could be $96 billion.
"Allowing LightSquared to move forward with its plan would heighten
uncertainty at a time when we are already economically challenged.
Implementation would hurt two key machinery manufacturing areas
represented by AEM, agriculture and construction.
"According to one AEM-member company, the LightSquared plan could degrade
most if not all GPS receivers as far as 22 miles from one of the 40,000
transmitters. The harm to highly-productive precision agricultural
practices is clear. Farmer business plans depend on GPS information such
as yield data, harvest weights, moisture data, and other precision
agriculture data. Interference with GPS signals up to 22 miles away
would devastate productivity and impede U.S. agriculture ability to help
meet the compounding worldwide demand for food.
"In construction equipment manufacturing we are still recovering from the
severe downturn of 2008-2009 and additional trouble for our industry is
at best unwelcome. In a letter to Secretary LaHood, the TCC coalition
explains that 'Increasingly, the technology is used to map and survey
construction sites including the location of buried and overhead
utilities, facilitate precision grading and enhance material
application. It is also used to prevent theft of construction equipment,
and provide real-time monitoring for equipment maintenance. This GPS
technology helps improve worker safety, reduces project delays, reduces
fuel consumption and produces a more efficient worksite. Any
interference with these signals would be extremely disruptive to the
many benefits GPS has brought to construction sites.'
"The TCC letter also makes it clear that 'We do not object to the goals
of increasing wireless data capacity and competition but the available
test data has shown overwhelming interference, and LightSquared should
not be allowed to launch in the spectrum adjacent to GPS and jeopardize
"We respectfully ask Congress and the Administration to stop the LightSquared plan."